The Assumption of Mary, Mother of God, Year A.
Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6,10 – 1Corinthians 15:20-26 – Luke 1:39-56.
The Church asserts the dogma that “the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory”. The joyful Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary places before us the final act of Our Lady’s earthly pilgrimage. Mary, as a teenaged girl from Nazareth, humbly and willingly acquiesced to God’s invitation to become the spouse of the Holy Spirit. She gave Jesus to the world, and she was there for her Son every step of the way from His Incarnation to His Ascension. At the point of her death, she was spared from corporal corruption, and was brought body and soul into heaven. As Queen of Heaven, she alone is worthy to intercede for us at the right-hand of Her Son, and to welcome her many adopted children from this world into the next. She, who was conceived without the taint of Original sin, had nothing to keep her from being welcomed straight into heaven. What she accomplished is what we all hope for ourselves; that is, that we may have the hope of heaven at the end of physical life. Mary’s Assumption is ‘Mary’s Easter’, in which she participates in Christ’s complete victory over sin and death. That is why this Solemnity honours the greatness of God, the dignity of humanity and the destiny of the Church!
The Solemnity we celebrate today is the conclusion of Mary’s acceptance of God’s plan for her to be the Mother of His Son. Tradition tells us that she presented herself to God in the Temple. Consecrated to God, she bore Jesus, the Holy One of God, in her womb, and it was she who presented Jesus, the Son of God, to God the Father in the Temple. Being sublimely graced by God, however, did not insulate her from living out the normal day-to-day experience of every human being. As the first believer and disciple of Jesus (for she heard the Word and kept it (Lk 11:27f), she was active and co-operative in His ministry; she kept going through fair days and foul, experiencing both the sunshine and storms that are part of everyday life, and she surrendered herself in obedience to His will, even at the foot of the cross.
The way in which Mary responded to God is the exemplar of the response we too must make to God. Her whole life embodied a proclamation of the greatness of God. Preserved from the sin of Adam, she realized that God was working out through her God’s plan to remedy the Fall, and so she confessed in the Magnificat: “The Almighty has done great things for me, and Holy is His name”. She realized too that her human dignity was not reserved solely to her, but was that which God willed for all humanity. That is why she is an example of a liberated woman, living, moving and working in accordance with the will of the triune God.
In the Gospel reading, Mary made the first Eucharistic Procession when she went to stay with her cousin Elizabeth in order to help her during the third trimester of her pregnancy. Mary – Our Lady of Perpetual Succour – is a champion of help and assistance. In the same way that she responded to Elizabeth’s need, and devoted herself to helping her, so she responds to our own pleadings for help, devoting herself to us, her children, and interceding for us as we go through the difficult moments of human life.
The Solemnity of Assumption delivers a message of hope to all God’s children about what will happen at the end of time when the dead will be called out from their graves (1Cor15:52). In the 2nd reading, St Paul talks about Christ as the first-born from the dead, and outlines the succession of resurrection. After Jesus, all men will be brought to life in Christ in their proper order. The glorification of Mary is the first-fruits of Christ’s redemption, and is a sign of hope to the living and to those who have passed over that, at the appointed time, we too shall be raised to the heavenly home which Christ has prepared for us. Meanwhile, it is incumbent upon us to work for the coming of the Kingdom in the ordinary, mundane, daily experiences of life, as did Mary.
What must we do?
- Like Mary, we have to bear Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Light of the world, into the dark corners of the world, and we have to fight against evil. We have to be on our guard, because evil will always battle against goodness, and darkness will always attempt to block out the light, both inside and outside us (cf. the relation of the woman and the dragon in the 1st Reading).
- In the gospel, Elizabeth exclaimed: Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled. It is important that we make our choices and behaviours with an eye to the afterlife, in full acceptance of the resurrection of the dead, of judgement, and of the hope of the glory of heaven which Jesus promised to those who love and serve Him. Strengthened by faith in God, and acting in accordance with His will, we will be equipped to carry on the struggle against evil in this earthly life and be enabled to keep our focus on gaining heavenly glory.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, assumed into heaven, pray for us: that we, her children, who are still on the journey through life in this world, will be taken into the glory of heaven on the last day. Amen. Sancta Maria Assumpta, Ora pro nobis.